Even if your car is not one of the latest breed of energy efficient ‘green vehicles’, there are many ways of lessening the impact your driving has on the environment. These are practical and achievable methods, which have the added bonus of saving you money in the long term. Along with a good car insurance policy, economic motoring techniques are your cars best friend.
Starting at the petrol pump, try to avoid filling up your tank once a week or month. Instead, put in a minimum of fuel and top up as needed. This may be a bind if you are accustomed to making a trip to the petrol station as rarely as possible, but it will reduce the amount of fuel you use. This is because fuel is an added weight for your car to transport around and this extra load increases the energy needed to drive from A to B. Also, don’t forget that boxes of recycling, luggage racks and piles of CDs, all add to the burden your car carries. Have a clear out and ensure you only keep essential items in your vehicle for day to day use.
Invest in regular services at a garage, expert maintenance will help the engine run smoothly, allowing you to obtain the optimum mileage for your fuel consumption. In between services have a checklist of less technical tasks to complete at home. Top up the oil and screen wash when necessary, but also inspect your tyres for signs of wear and tear. They should be inflated to the manufacturers maximum recommended pressure; this improves stopping distance and grip, as well as being more efficient. Under inflated tyres create a dragging effect, increasing the fuel used and in turn your C02 emissions. To gain the most accurate reading of tyre pressure, check at the beginning of a journey as the internal tyre pressure increases with the heat generated by movement.
If you are stuck in traffic jam or waiting at lights for any length of time, turn off your engine. Allowing an engine to idle consumes more fuel than turning your car off and then back on as the traffic begins to move.
Take care not to labour the engine, on the road keep within the legal limit and use the highest gear for the speed you are doing. This will lower the rev count and therefore the strain on your car. Slow steady driving at 50mph costs on average 30% less than moving at 70mph, a reduction in fuel that equates to significant savings at the pump.
Although its hard to resist on a hot day, only use the air conditioning when absolutely necessary. Of course sitting in a stiflingly hot car can affect your concentration, so be thoughtful about your air circulation choices. At high speeds opening a window affects the flow of air around a car and causes drag, so consider using air conditioning on a motorway. However, when driving at much lower speeds; open the windows and enjoy some natural air conditioning.
Finally, think in advance about the trips you make by car. Driving shorter distances often involves the kind of stop/start driving that is the least eco-friendly. If possible incorporate three or four errands in one trip, rather than leaving the house everyday for short journeys. If you are heading off on a longer drive, prepare your satellite navigation system or map beforehand. Take time to study the route and check for any traffic problems. This will lessen the chance of getting lost, which not only increases your anxiety but also wastes fuel.